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Sometimes it is the core idea in a film that makes it worthwhile. And that's one of the few reasons why T for Taj Mahal works as a social drama that highlights the state of lack of education in rural India. Set in Agra and using probably the most famous historical monument of the country as a reference, the story follows the life of a young man who wishes to start a school in his village which is about a few tens of kilometers from the monument. Unable to convince the village chief, he starts a roadside hotel (dhaba) to attract and feed tourists and ask them for some time of their schedule in return instead of money. He does not know if this scheme will work, but that's the ability of the central character to cling to hope even in the face of hardship. It's magnificent to get some confirmation about how people are willing to pay up but are not ready to share even a few minutes of their time. That's just another aspect of T for Taj Mahal that drives the point across. But none of these stop it from being a bit cinge-worthy at the start where there are massive gaps between the proceedings and the reality, which can be seen as a shortcoming in the writers' imagination. A little bit of polishing would have done the trick but I understand that the film was in a limbo for a few years due to its original producer's death. With enough humor from Pitobash and Manoj Pahwa, the film slowly reaches its climax as the odd English narration epitomizes the life of the lead character, an illiterate villager played with much finesse by Subrat Dutta. T for Taj Mahal is a sweet little film that should be forgiven for its lack of necessary realism just because it sends a message of education loud and clear. It makes you feel good. TN.
(Watched and reviewed at its India premiere at the 10th Jagran Film Festival (JFF) in Mumbai.)
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